The Dances (and Falls) of Life

Submitted into Contest #161 in response to: Write about someone who needs to face their past in order to move forward.... view prompt


Inspirational Romance

It's never easy, starting over. New homes, new schools new jobs, no matter what it is, beginnings are always hard.

Almost as hard as endings.

But the hardest of all, the hardest of all is when the line between the two blurs, when the before and after and in-between mix and mingle in one lively, breathtaking dance.

This, he believes, is the essence of life. The flow, the change, the uncertainty. To grow is life, to be static is death. To fall, to fly, to keep going. You form the tapestry of your life and it is beautiful and vivid and messy, and no one can take it from you. And life moves and things end and begin and middle and spin and dance in the waves of life.

Perhaps it would be easier, he thinks. If the old would die and the new would come, if the lines were crisp and clear. Two distinct, separate entities. If one did not have to dwell in the confusion, the fear, of the in-between, and the afterward. The before, and the not quite. And when one meets the other, when the demons of the past and the hopes of the future meet in the messy, chaotic present. When one feels akin to a hamster on a wheel, running and moving and learning, only to get out and find they've gone nowhere. Still stuck in the same old rut.

That the tapestry, the beautiful dance of life, has become a prison for them. Trapping them in what was and what will be. Never seeing what is, what can come next. Blocked by what was before from moving on. When one has to pass through the fires of mistakes of the past, to own up to what's been done.

He stood there, terrified, rooted to the spot, frozen in time.

“Hey, can I come in?”

Questions, so innocent, seemingly simple, but the guilt of the past rears its ugly head. Failures and fears, worry and doubts. All that led up to that one fatal mistake. That last misfire.


You wonder then, what you could have done differently. If you had known then what you know now. Could you have taken the other path? Could you have chosen the better road? Did you act out of love or out of fear? Did you fight, or did you sink back into the safe, the easy? That which you knew because you were too scared to challenge the old.

And now, now that life gives you a second chance. What will you do? Will you make the same mistake twice? Will you choose familiar over wonder? Will you let the same fears and doubts own you once more?

He leads her into his home, taking a seat on a chair opposite her, leaning forward against the back. Such familiar positions, memories of times good and bad.

What now, will you return to your wheel, always running never moving? Trapped in a perpetual cycle of fear and doubt?


“I wanted to…”

They both begin at the same time, blushing, they look away, each gesturing for the other to go first.

Will you speak, as you did before, or will you listen? Are you willing to change? To grow? Or will you keep running, never looking at your own faults, never admitting to your own failures?

She smiles then, an encouraging sign.

“I missed you, Daniel,” she says softly, almost as if afraid he might flee at the slightest provocation.

“I'm sorry,” he blurts. She took the first step, he can match her. The pain of long ago mistakes makes itself known. He knows he must lay to rest his fears, his doubts. He doesn't know how it will turn out. Doesn't know the next step. But that's the beauty of this dance, is it not?

“I'm sorry, I should've listened more, I shouldn't have said what I said. I just, please come back, we, we can start over?” He says the words but knows in his heart they are not true, what has been done, has been done. You cannot un-dance a step, cannot unweave a thread. The old fear returns, the dance of life. A blessing, a curse. The fear spins around his head, wondering. What you do is done, and beforehand, one never knows. What then is one to do?

She looks at him, hoping, fearing it to be true. They had danced and weaved, and could not go back, but, maybe they could go forward.

But first, she has to know.

“Why, why did you do it? Why…?” she trails off, not knowing how to articulate her question, somehow knowing that he understands.

And here he hesitates, doubt and fear and confusion. But then, with startling clarity he sees. If one knew the steps if one could undo what had been done what then would be the point?

“I was afraid,” he says, committing now, laying bare his heart. “I was afraid and confused and stupid.”

“And you're not now?” she asks, the fear and hope and love straining her voice.

“Now, now I know two things.” he stands, approaching her slowly. “I know that life is not certain, that what is done is done. The dance we danced is set in stone, what we have not yet danced unknown.” he reaches her now, pulling her up to her feet. She allows him to wrap her in his arms despite herself, hoping, yet fearing to believe.

“And the second?” she asks, hope burning her to her core.

“I love you, and will fight to my last breath before leaving you again.” he presses his lips against hers, maybe, just maybe he can go somewhere after all.

Will you face your ghost, your fears, and doubts? Will, the past keep you on your wheel, always running, never moving?

Take the word of the one who has run, the one who dared not look. It's always better to face that ghost, to face the past and stand. Choosing to take the easy road to not struggle or fight? To let life happen, to run from the fear and doubt? To choose this is to choose death.

This be the dance of life,

the tapestry you weave.

You might not know the steps forward,

can't change footprints you leave.

Better to guess and fail

to fall, to lose to hurt.

Then to stay safe right where you are,

till you be brought beneath the dirt.

August 30, 2022 11:34

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Kelly Sibley
08:55 Sep 08, 2022

I really like your analogy. Well done! I also really like the fact that the characters were not named. The piece was appealing because it was a snippet, a quick moment in time captured so eloquently!


Nathan Blackwood
18:50 Sep 08, 2022

Thanks! I was really nervous about this piece, as it is very different from my usual style/genre. I'm glad you enjoyed it(:


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

Yes, you! Write. Format. Export for ebook and print. 100% free, always.